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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 May 2007, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
Bertie Ahern wins Irish election
Bertie Ahern
There are some tough talks ahead for Mr Ahern
Irish PM Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fail party has won the country's general election, but narrowly failed to gain an overall majority in parliament.

The party secured 78 seats in the 166-seat assembly, but saw a decline in the vote of its previous coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats.

Mr Ahern now faces the prospect of tough talks with opposition parties to build a coalition government.

He can count on two independents and two surviving Progressive Democrats.

The main opposition Fine Gael polled well, winning 51 seats, but its potential coalition partners Labour and the Greens fared less well.

As a result, not even these three parties combined could overtake Fianna Fail and the PDs.

Fianna Fail: 78 seats
Fine Gael: 51
Labour: 20
Greens: 6
Independents: 5
Sinn Fein: 4
Progressive Democrats: 2
Total seats: 166

Meanwhile, the PDs' leader Michael McDowell has retired from politics after losing his seat.

Sinn Fein also polled badly and ended up with four seats, losing one in Dublin and failing to win target seats in Dublin and Donegal.

"We'll dust ourselves down. We're in this for the long haul. We would like to have done better but we did our best," said Gerry Adams, the party's president.

In an interview on Irish broadcaster RTE's radio service on Saturday, Mr Ahern said his party had a "lot of options" open to it, but that stability was number one on his agenda, and the biggest consideration when it came to forming a government.

There has been speculation he might seek an arrangement with Labour.

We live in a democracy and like it or not the same number of people voted for FF this time around as last time
JS, Dublin, Ireland

However, this might prove less popular with his own parliamentary party because it would mean fewer ministerial jobs on offer than in combination with a smaller grouping.

The Republic of Ireland's system of proportional representation means that parties' representation in the Dail (lower house of parliament) closely matches their percentage of the vote.

The taoiseach (prime minister) has led a coalition government since 1997 - a period of sustained economic growth for the Republic.

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